Samsung 'Fake' Moon Shots Controversy Puts Computational Photography in the Spotlight

Samsung's "Space Zoom" feature has come under fire amid complaints that images of the moon are being artificially enhanced to an extreme extent.

samsung s23 ultra rear
Samsung introduced a 100x zoom feature with the Galaxy S20 Ultra in 2020, becoming a mainstay on recent flagship handsets from the company. Since its debut, Samsung has touted its devices' ability to take impressive pictures of the moon. Unlike brands such as Huawei, which simply overlay a PNG of the moon on such images, Samsung says that no overlays or texture effects are applied.

Yet on Friday, a Samsung user on the subreddit r/Android shared a detailed post purporting to "prove" that Samsung's moon shots are "fake." Their methodology involved downloading a high-resolution image of the moon, downsizing it to just 170 by 170 pixels, clipping the highlights, and applying a gaussian blur to heavily obscure the moon's surface details. This low-resolution image was then displayed on a monitor and captured at a distance from a Samsung Galaxy device. The resulting image has considerably more detail than its source.

samsung moon
Samsung devices seemingly achieve this effect by applying machine learning trained on a large number of moon images, making the photography effect purely computational. This has led to accusations that a texture is functionally still being applied to images of the moon and that the feature is a disingenuous representation of the camera hardware's actual capabilities, triggering heated debate online, even bringing into question the iPhone's reliance on computational photography.

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Top Rated Comments

antiprotest Avatar
18 months ago
Oh, that explains it. I was having surf and turf at a restaurant and took a photo of my food on this Samsung phone, but when I looked at the photo it turned into a picture of a cow, a potato, a cod, and a bag of panko.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MasterControlProgram Avatar
18 months ago
One of the things Samsung claimed about their moon shot feature is that it's using multiple frames to create the final image, but since this experiment used a permanently blurred image it's impossible for the phone to be using multiple frames to reconstruct a sharper image. I'd be interested to hear how Samsung explain that discrepancy.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
arkitect Avatar
18 months ago
Jesus wept. ??‍♂️

So now even our own photographs get faked?

I just do not understand the mentality behind this at all…

"Your 100X zoom 50,000,000,000 pixel phone camera is incapable of taking a truly good photo of the moon?

Never mind, here's a faked version for you to brag about on Insta!

'Cos you're a winner baby!"

Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
18 months ago
Perception is reality! So many Samsung fans are going to be disappointed by this. But it's still fascinating AI is being used for photography.

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Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
coffeemilktea Avatar
18 months ago
Samsung being dishonest? Who could have ever seen this coming? ?
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
gmarm Avatar
18 months ago
I think we can expect more and more of computational / AI-enhanced photography.

I just wish we get more control over whether all these features are enabled, or to which extent.

As a photographer, I already find the images from the iPhone quite unnatural looking / HDR-ry. You can mitigate some of that by playing with Photographic Styles, or using a third party app, but I'd prefer something more straightforward.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)